We’ve been visiting other churches. There must be a way to say that without seeming like a scriptural adulterer.
The first Sunday out from our regular congregation was to hear a special speaker, W.Paul Young, author of The Shack. Very justifiable, he is a wonderful speaker and a very graceful individual. Meeting him gave me hope for Christianity, and that struck me hard – I didn’t realize Christianity needed my hope.
The second venture out was an evening service way after I attended normal morning service so folks wouldn’t worry about me. I did note that going to church had become an agenda-driven exercise of meeting the people I need to meet to get things done; paperwork for jail ministry, coordinating Men’s groups, etc. Worship became the part of the service I fidgeted through until we got to the message so I could fidget through that until it was time to go home.
Clearly my heart wasn’t surrendered to the corporate experience, so I looked forward to entering a worship community where I wasn’t known, to see if I even had a heart for Christ that He might search. When the singer began his praise I was startled to realized he believed it. It was sincere, original, and genuine, not a K-Love cover tune. And when the drummer matched my pounding heart I thought we had found a church for ex-hippies and their thirty-year-old offspring.
The message was based on a revelatory dream, not scripture, and as I’ve had one of those myself, I followed along figuring I’d discover eventually if it was a pattern or the exception. Folks were happy to be there, happy to see each other, happy to praise and pray, and happy to be quiet about it. Until Monday I didn’t see any harm in that.
Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement (John 7:24) would be a good password to use before entering any Google searches, especially for critiques on houses of worship. I found many cautions about hyper-Pentacostalism, which I didn’t even know was a category, but I also found some sensible guidelines in the Book of Matthew. “For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you visited me…in as much as you did it to the least of these, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:35).
Another part of Matthew 7:21 says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name and done many wonders in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!”
I suppose that on any given Sunday any church might risk shutting the door in the face of a sinner or a saint as a consequence of opening a window to the soul, which might be another reason that after He fed the five thousand with five loaves and two fishes, Jesus made a special point to go back and gather up the crumbs.